This week on CounterSpin: Yes, US families have some $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Yes, this debt has increased tremendously in recent years as a result of policy. Yes, student loan debt curtails opportunities, imposes hardship and drains the economy. But the New York Times wants you to know something: “Cancelling Student Loan Debt Doesn’t Make Problems Disappear.”
The Times would have you believe their problem with debt forgiveness plans offered by various politicians is that they “would not eliminate future student debt—not even close.” Thus the paper seeks credit for saying the called-for changes don’t go far enough to change the status quo that, with their pish-poshing, they are implicitly defending. The piece ends with a virtual call to calm down, since “Although the nation’s $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan balance is shocking in the aggregate, it’s composed of many different kinds of borrowers and many different academic programs.”
“It’s complicated” is always going to be corporate media’s pushback to radical change—from the left, that is. But more people see through it every day. Kevin Kumashiro is former dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco; founder of Education Deans for Justice and Equity; and author of, most recently, Bad Teacher!: How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture. We’ll talk with him about student-loan debt cancellation as just the beginning of a conversation about the role of education in an aspiring democracy.